We have little blue penguin visitors!

Super exciting news... we've got penguins at our house!

The other night while sitting on the couch watching TV, Joe and I heard the most unusual noise outside. We paused the program and stopped to listen. What on earth is that? 

We opened the door and to our surprise, there was a little blue penguin hiding under the garden box! Joe crouched down to get a closer look and the brave little penguin emerged. My bird-nerdiness went off the charts!

We decided to call him Jimmy.

Little Blue Penguins are known to live along New Zealand's coastline, but having lived on the coast for a while, I was starting to doubt their existence. 

They're the world's smallest penguin, standing at about 25cm and weighing about 1 kilo of blue cuteness. Adult birds come ashore between May and June to prepare nests and waddle up to 1.5 km from the sea, and climb 300 m to find the perfect nest site. 'Nest Hunters International' - Let's hope our place makes the cut, because I would just die if we get baby penguins waddling around the property! 

The next evening at about the same time we heard the squawking again, but this time twice the noise.  We opened the door to find two penguins on the steps! 

Looks like Jimmy the penguin has taken a lover. Meet Roxanne.

Once again I exploded with penguin excitement - not only because they were so cute, but because only in New Zealand (and maybe Australia) do you get penguins on your door step!

Earlier this year, we paid money to see penguins on the South Island, and here they were outside my house!

They didn't seem to be bothered by our presence and just continued to go about their business. Since that night, my ears have been perked for penguin noises, but we haven't seem them again. Hopefully they've found a suitable spot to nest and we'll be seeing more of Jimmy and Roxanne in the future! I'll keep you posted!

 

You can learn more about the Little Blue Penguin at through the New Zealand Department of Conservation

ANZAC Weekend Stay-cation

I know, I've been completely slacking with the blog, but with good reason! You're looking at the new Senior Digital Producer at a brand and experience agency here in Wellington. I'm loving my new gig, working in a fun and laid back environment and even doing my part for mother earth by catching the bus each morning. 

Not a bad view from my desk

I've got a bit of catching up to do, so I'll start with ANZAC weekend and work my way back...

Last weekend New Zealand celebrated ANZAC Day with parades, services and a 3-day weekend. This conveniently coincided with Joe's and my birthdays which are a day apart, so we planned a stay-cation to take part in ANZAC festivities and explore some new parts of Wellington. 

ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) Day commemorates the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, as well as all who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. This year marked 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, and there were beautiful services at dawn all around the country to mark the time that the soldiers landed.

I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed at 4:45am for the dawn service in Wellington, and was absolutely shocked and moved when Joe and I arrived to see thousands of people filling the streets for the service. An estimated 25,000 people attended the dawn service in Wellington!

Despite the hoards of people, there was a beautiful hush and stillness in the air as we sang hymns and listened to the bugle call. I couldn't help but compare the occasion to America's Veteran's Day and wonder if Americans would wake up before dawn to celebrate our veterans - we should! Although I don't have any New Zealand ancestors who fought at Gallipoli, in my heart I celebrated both of my grandfathers who fought in WWII and the Korean War. 

After the service, we watched the sunrise... and then went back to sleep! 

Sun rising across the street from my house.

Sun rising across the street from my house.

On Saturday (in order to make it feel like a proper holiday and a 'birthday extravaganza' as my dad calls it) I booked a room at Ohtela boutique hotel in Wellington I've been wanting to try. 

This well-kept 10 bedroom hotel has a mid-century modern vibe with a tasteful hint of 'Kiwiana' and all of the modern amenities to make you feel relaxed and on vacation. 

The difference is in the details - live plants in little tea cups, clever lighting, good magazines, comfortable and stylish furniture make you actually want to stay and enjoy the room. 

Only in New Zealand will you find an image of sheep in a field wallpapered above the bath tub. 

Room service? Don't mind if I do!

Ohtel is located on Oriental Parade, just a short walk into the Wellington CBD but far enough away to escape from the hustle and bustle. The Norfolk Island Pines reminded me of my first New Zealand home on Marine Parade in Napier. 

In the evening, Joe and I tried a restaurant that a friend recommended - Sweet Mother's Kitchen.

Little did I know that the menu would be full of New Orleans style food! How perfect, considering I'd been desperately suffering from Jazz Fest FOMO. I ordered some 'Prawn' Monica and felt right at home.

PrawnMonica

I'd give it an 8/10 in terms of authenticity. The beignets weren't exactly 'Cafe Du Monde,' but still good enough to curb my craving and get me looking forward to my upcoming trip in May. 

On Sunday we explored the Air New Zealand anniversary exhibit at Te Papa, which I highly recommend. It features all of the crew uniforms that have been worn over the years along with some really interesting aviation history. Did you know New Zealanders used to receive mail by pigeon!?

Te Papa also has some beautiful art exhibits on the 4th floor. For some reason, art museums always make me feel like a traveler. Maybe it brings back old feelings and memories of studying abroad and spending hours in museums around Europe, but I just love it!

So much fun exploring our city! Now that we've seen so much of this beautiful country, we're finding creative new ways to experience new places and activities. Sometimes the best adventures are in your own back yard!

 

It's not goodbye Hawke's Bay, just see you later!

Today is a very bittersweet day for me. Today I pack up our trusty Subaru 'Murray' and say goodbye to my first New Zealand home - Napier. Joe's work brings us about 3 hours south to the 'city life' in Wellington, New Zealand. And while I am excited for a change of scenery and the unexpected adventures to come in this vibrant and creative little city, it's difficult to say goodbye to a place that has been so good to us and has really started to feel like home.

Getting paid to get inspired in New Zealand: Guest Blog

It's hard to believe I've been living in New Zealand for nearly ten months. I must admit that some of the newness has worn off. Although the green mountains, boat loads of sheep and stunning views never cease to amaze, the novel phrases and unfamiliar quirks finally feel somewhat commonplace. Today I'm sharing New Zealand through fresh eyes... Maddie Lochte's eyes to be exact.

Taking a bite out of Wellington

Yes, I'm still going on about my little weekend in Wellington. I can't help it. It's just a special little city that really left me feeling inspired. It combined all of my favorite things (the things I like to blog about) travel, design, and food.

My favorite and most leisurely part of our visit was exploring the restaurant scene. Just steps outside of my hotel, there were tons of restaurants to choose from.

Wellington by design

Picturesque and pleasing, weird and wacky, Wellington is buzzing with an energy of creativity and youth. In the mornings, hipster design students can be found walking to the Victoria University campus with Apple laptops and portfolios in tow, as Wellingtonians head to work and tourists head to brunch and the vintage shops along Cuba Street.

Wicked Wellington Weekend

Wellington, Wellywood, The Capital of Cool, call it what you will… New Zealand’s capital certainly lives up to its reputation. Last week Joe and I ventured to the bottom of the North Island (and the world’s most southern capital) for a taste of the city life. I’ve never considered myself much of a metropolitan lady, but I must admit it was surprisingly refreshing and energizing to take a break from the quieter life of Napier.